Wednesday, October 31, 2012


{Bracelet and spider ring, which I'm wearing in my hair: Z Gallerie | MAC Black Lipmix | Chanel Black Satin}

{Purse: Paul's Boutique}

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fall comes to Florida!

Fall is here! Fall is here!

I've had this Zara blazer for about a month now but it's been too darn hot to break it out of the closet. Seems like the fashion bloggers up north have beat me to the punch in showcasing it. We had a cold and windy front come through Sunday evening, which brought about temps in the lovely 60s. I also had someone hack into my eBay account a few weeks ago and charge $71 in shipping for an item I already shipped before I left CT. I immediately called Paypal who escalated the issue and refunded my money within a week. Passwords have been changed but I haven't purchased anything through eBay since. I've been using eBay since the mid 90s and had never had a breach before. Because the money was refunded back into my Paypal account and not my checking account, when I bought this faux leather dress online from The Limited, the Paypal balance was used for the purchase. It's a size L but fits a bit weird. I wouldn't feel comfortable without a blazer over the dress. The top is fine but the drop waist makes me feel rather squeezy piggy like. That's never a good look. However, they were all sold out of the 14W on The Limited's sister site Eloquii (but not anymore! Buy larger sizes here).

While my house in CT is getting pummeled by Sandy, hubby and I have been glued to the TV and streaming live NBC CT newscasts all day. Unfortunately we really don't have anyone to reach out to to tell us if we've lost power, etc. We did swap numbers with the neighbor and I've asked my realtor to check on the place after the storm is over. My biggest concern is losing power with excessive rain. Basements are nothing to mess with when you have no power getting to the sump pump. So if anyone reading my blog is near West Haven, CT, please check on my sweet little house. And to all my fellow fashion bloggers up north, stay safe.

{Dress: The Limited | Blazer: Zara | Shoes: Bandolino Courteous. Buy them here. | Lipstick: Besame Cherry Red}

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Questions About Me

So I was nominated for the Liebster Blog Award some time back (and again just recently by Egyptomaniac - thank you!) but never got around to completing the questionnaire. I believe I was nominated the first time when the big move was happening. It also seemed like one of those questionnaires you do in either high school or at work as a 'get to know you' thing. I've never been big on doing those things. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for people taking the time to read my blog, commenting, and thinking of me for blog awards. Although you probably know all about me, I'm happy to answer the 11 questions. However, most of the blogs I follow have more than 200 followers so I can really only complete
the first part.

11 Facts about Niki:

1. I have been told that my laugh reminds people of Betty Rubble. I cackle when I laugh.

2. Starfish - love them. Have them all over the living room. Had a starfish brooch on my wedding dress. Had the same brooch on both of my custom made flip-flops.

3. I can go all weekend in jean shorts, grubby tees, no makeup, and messy hair. In fact, I usually go to the grocery store looking pretty grubby on the weekends. Baseball caps are my friends.

4. I can be pretty picky with food and have been called 'Picky Niki' all my life. I
don't like chocolate and peanut butter together. I only like my hamburgers with cheese and ketchup. I hate any fruit. Prime rib is nasty as are baked beans, black beans, flan, fruit pies, and mushrooms. Oh, and I can't stand when people pop popcorn at work. Makes me queasy.

5. I can't stand roller coasters. I don't like the sensation of falling. I would never
jump out of a plane or bungee jump.

6. I have a heightened sense of smell. I like candles but can't go into candle stores. I get nauseous at work when someone sprays perfume or cologne (really? it has to be done at work, people? do that at home). I once was able to smell a Dunkin Donuts before I saw the signs for it. Yeah, glazed donuts are a weakness.

7. I exercise, but I don't like to. I rarely ever finish a Spin class. After 30 
minutes of group exercise, I'm done. I've also never been able to run. I'd like to but my body just isn't built for it.

8. I love to cook. I can be in the kitchen for hours creating new meals. Whenever I go to bookstores, I head to the cooking section. Cooking relaxes me. If it paid, I would go to Culinary school in a heartbeat and become a chef.

9. When I was 9, I was attacked by a German Shepherd while visiting a friend. Her parents weren't home. The dog came after me, ripped open my right forearm, ripped my pants from thigh to ankle, and forced me to jump out of a window to get away. For years, I was scared of all big dogs.

10. In high school I was in all honors classes. I tested 'gifted' in forth grade.
However, I made average grades and do not do well on tests. I was also on the path to become a pharmacist and was crushed when my grades weren't high enough to get into the University of Florida College of Pharmacy. At the University of South Florida, I took classes to prepare for med school. That lasted a semester. Then came business courses. Boring. And finally English, where I found my niche.

11. I don't like to lead meetings or speak in public. I can't speak off the cuff. I get very nervous if I have to do a presentation. I become physically ill.

And here are the questions from Egyptomaniac:

1. What is that one special  item (clothing/accessory) you never leave the house
without? Why?

My engagement and wedding ring.

2. If you could only wear one pair of shoes for an entire year, what would they be and why?

Nooooo!!!! well, it would have to be my FitFlops. I wear them all the time at home and on the weekends because I have terrible feet and they are the only shoes that give me total comfort.

3. What's your biggest fashion 'Don't' or trend you avoid at all costs?

Short sleeve cotton polo shirts. They look ridiculous on me.

4.What's the most expensive item in your closet?

A Louis Vuitton purse I have yet to use. Bought it five years ago and I just can't
bring myself to use it.

5. Ok, now what's the most treasured item in your closet--the one you wouldn't sell for a million bucks?

A million dollars? Yeah, take it all!

6. Honestly now, do you dress for yourself or dress for others?
Both. My blog keeps me from wearing the same boring stuff and going back to tees, jeans, and flip flops. A habit I only want to keep for the weekends.

7.  Let's be catty for a moment: Any public figures you'd like to nominate for 'What Not to Wear'?

Patricia Arquette. She so needs a stylist.

8. What's the best piece of fashion advice you were ever given?

I don't think it was advice I was given, but rather observation from studying magazines and blogs. I'm short so I know that if I wear cropped pants, I need to wear a pointy heel to give the illusion of elongation. In the last year, I've also learned that it's okay to wear stripes with patterns. To break out of my comfort zone and take risks.

9. What is your favorite season to dress for? Why?

I love dressing for fall. The rich colors that match the cool, crisp air.

10.Got any pet peeves or phobias? What kind of crazy do you try to hide from others?

Clicking pens, tapping, any repetitive noise.

11. The holidays are coming up! It wouldn't be the holiday season for you

The love of my family.

Bonus Question: (cause it's a good one!)
12. I'm assuming we're all fans of J Crew here (or just insert your favorite retailer).
If you could give one suggestion/idea/demand/restriction/vent to the designers for future seasons what would it be?

Better quality tees that don't get tiny pin holes. And stop it with the $600 pants!

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Think Pink

It was Think Pink Thursday at work yesterday in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. And although I turned 40 in January, I have yet to get my first mammogram. So when the insurance kicks in next month, I will reestablish myself with my GYN in Tampa and book an appointment for a boob smoosh (not a Jersey Shore euphemism).

I am decked out in pink today. Wasn't hard to do as I have a lot of pink clothes in my closet. I'm a blonde, I love pink, what can I say? I went to Westshore Plaza last night in Tampa to return a skirt I ordered from Loft (it was too short at 17"; I prefer 21" or longer). Before I made my way there, I stopped in Ann Taylor as they were having 30% off clearance. I loaded up! This necklace (originally $88) was on final sale for $19.99 with add'l 30% off! I remember buying my yellow one (seen here) at full price with a small, in store discount. I loved it so much, I went back for the pink one but couldn't find it. It was so popular it ended up selling out of the stores and the website. So glad I waited.

I got two more necklaces, a short-sleeve button down black blouse, and these Riley shoes (in coral, not yellow) for $20! All it all, I spent less than $100. I then headed over to Loft to return my skirt. They were having a 50% off sale on everything until 7pm. I just made it to pick up a blouse. With the return of the skirt, I ended up getting $16 back! Sometimes it pays to wait until a season is over before stocking up on deeply discounted items.

{Shirt: Asos | Pants: Ann Taylor | Necklace: Ann Taylor | Shoes: Nine West Andriana | Lipstick: OCC Lip Tar in Boy}

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fall Spots

"You look just like yesterday, Niki." Why yes, I do look similar in my black and gray combo. It ain't no coincidence as I bought this blazer and my shirt from yesterday at Zara at the same time. And even though this blazer had to be repaired by my mom recently (thanks Mom!), I still love it.  Especially because the little tomatoes look more like pumpkins to me.

October is my favorite month of the year as it represents fall. And Halloween is my favorite holiday as it doesn't involve gifts or big meals. I love baking through the month. I'm a big fan of Williams Sonoma Pecan Pumpkin Butter and Pumpkin Bread Mix (although Trader Joe's has cheaper versions that taste the same!). I make Muir's Pumpkin Butter cookies, Pumpkin Pie (even though I don't partake in pie), individual Pumpkin cakes with cream cheese frosting, and Spice cake.

I also just ordered more Rosemary Parmesan Quick Bread and New England Chicken Stew from Stonewall Kitchen. Perfect fall food on chilly nights. I miss being able to pop into a Stonewall Kitchen store in CT. Back in 2010, I drove to York, Maine and took a class at their Cooking School. The main location was beautiful and even though it was a chilly February day, there was very
little snow on the ground and lots of sunshine.

I am also missing my fall leaves, planting my spring flowers, and the distinct chill in the air that arrives mid-October in Connecticut. However I have to keep reminding myself that all those pretty leaves come crashing down (and with it three weekends of raking), the air gets colder, the daylight quickly turns to darkness at 4pm in November, and hubby and I end up hibernating until May.

Since being back in FL, I noticed a change in both my hubby and myself. Even with the uptake in spending between our two worlds, we seem more relaxed and happy. It's a combo of daily sunshine, warm air, ease of moving around (flat roads, no stairs, no winter garb), easy access to Tampa, St. Pete, beaches, and restaurants, an abundance of warm weather, year round weekend activities, and most important - spur of the moment family visits where my nephew's face just lights up when he sees "Aunt Nay Nay." Facetime is amazing. Real time is the best!

{Dress: H&M (recent) | Blazer: Zara | Necklace: J. Crew | Shoes: Nine West Andriana | Lipstick: MAC Girl About Town}

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

3.1 Phillip Lim Substitute

My cheapy Loft version of the 3.1 Phillip Lim sweatshirt arrived yesterday. I'm pretty happy with it. It's thin, darker than it looks on the website, but will pair nicely over button downs. I also realized that I don't own a lot of classic neutral button down shirts. So I'm going to work on getting white, blue, and black button downs. I've checked a few sites but just haven't found the right ones yet. Might have to go back to Zara as they had some pretty nice ones for under $35.

I love the pattern mixing I have going on today. It's a simple look really, with only a couple of colors, but very work appropriate. Since we have clients on site the next two days, you'll see similar outfits tomorrow and Friday.

Like the new haircut? I'm really considering growing out my bangs again and doing a shorter asymmetrical cut with long bangs and short in the back. So much easier to fix in the morning. When I was describing this cut to my stylist, I showed her a picture of Lissy's hair from A Girl in Boston. Thanks Lissy!

{Sweatshirt: Loft. Buy it here. | Blouse: Zara | Skirt: Gap | Shoes: Nine West Andriana | Sunglasses: Ray Bans | Lipstick: Nars Dragon Girl}
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Monday, October 22, 2012

Our Anniversary

Hubby and I were married two years ago today at the Holiday Inn on Clearwater Beach. We had an intimate beach wedding (30 guests) and thought out every detail. We had the best time and it was an awesome evening.

Originally, we planned to go to Jimmy's Fish House (the restaurant that anchors the hotel and catered our food), but we had a rather lazy Sunday (I took a very long afternoon nap and basically stayed in bed all day - very rare). Instead, I looked to hubby and said, "Where can we go that we both like that we haven't been to yet since moving back?" Without missing a beat, he replied, "Tina Tapas!" Of course! Tina Tapas. Just a short walk from the condo we were renting in downtown Tampa before we moved to Connecticut. I've been dreaming about the chocolate budino for four years now. It is simply the best dessert I've ever had. Warm, chocolate cake that is the consistency of cheesecake but rich and so delicious.

I'm just glad they were open still. Restaurants in the Channelside District of downtown Tampa have been closing rapidly (2 since we've been back). There's a developer interested in bringing new life to the outdoor venue. However, the movie theatre, a supper club, and a dueling piano bar have all closed.

When we got there, we found several restaurants were still open including Tina Tapas. And they allowed us to bring our own wine for a small corkage fee. Yay!

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any pictures of my dress that didn't make me look like Missy Misdemeanor Elliot. I kid you not! It looked like a green garbage bag. Maybe it's because I'm bloated, maybe it's because it's my week to pig out (I have one of those weeks once a month - just can't get full). Who knows, but I wasn't going to gross you out with the outfit and then show you some mouthwatering food selections.

{Dress: Muse from | Shoes: Vince Camuto | Purse: Botkier | Necklace: Forever 21 | Lipstick: Nars}

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Happy Halloween a little early. I've had this JCP jacket in my closet for months now. "Blah, blah, blah, we've heard this one from you before, Niki." It just felt too orange for any month other than October. I mean can you really pair black and orange together without looking like either a jailbird or a kid begging for some saturated fats and complex carbs?

The necklace was a recent purchase from Forever 21 and sister thought it was a bit pricey at almost $9. I don't know where she's been getting her jewelry (our father did sell fine jewelry for many, many years at much higher prices than my costume jewelry), but that's pretty cheap for a necklace.

This Gap tank was giving me major cleavage today. I'm not the type to show off my busty assets. I consider them way too big and more of a hindrance than a benefit. Husband might have a different opinion. So I kept tugging on my tank all day to pull it up and cover myself.

On another note, hubby and I have some weekend plans. We're celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary on Monday. We got married in FL so we're going to go back on Sunday to the beach hotel we got married at and have dinner at the yummy restaurant after soaking up some sun all day long. It's supposed to be a beautiful weekend. On Saturday, I'm getting my hair cut. Going a little shorter with a few more layers. I then might tool around the mall in Tampa for some window shopping.

As I was rushing to take this pics this morning, I forgot to show you my footsies. These are the shoes I wore.

Have a great weekend!

{Blazer: JCP | Jeans: Sears | Tank: Gap | Necklace: Forever 21 | Lipstick: Nars Heat Wave}

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

3.1 Phillip Lim vs. Loft

I get notifications every day from and I even have the iPhone app for quick perusing. I've had success ordering from both sites (Botkier and Stella McCartney from Gilt and a few pairs of shoes from myhabit) with only one return to MYHABIT and one snafu on an order that never came (they credited my account and gave me an extra $10).

Some days I look at the sites, other times I'll let a week go by. I happened to look at the site yesterday and was in awe of this 3.1 Phillip Lim jeweled sweatshirt.

A sweatshirt in FL? It has short sleeves! And blingy rhinestone thingies. Yay! And it was marked down significantly (although still $199). And it was sold out. And the largest size was an 8. 

Why oh why lovely designers do you have to only design for small women? Don't you know us 'average' and slightly above average women love designer clothes, too? Do only skinny women make enough money to afford your quality couture? Can you not spare enough fabric for a size 14 gal? Will the price triple if you have to order more fabric?

This is the reason why I haven't ordered more off The Outnet. They cater to smaller sized women. Well, maybe it's not them. Again, it's probably the designers. Same with Shopbop. I have found that some of the designers I covet only produce clothing up to a size 10. Maybe if I'm lucky I'll get a designer like Tibi who will go up to a 12. But even then, the cut tends to run small.

So back to this pretty little sweatshirt. I got an email notice Tuesday night about a take $50 off $100 Flash sale Loft was having. I've been staying away from Loft as I feel their clothing is a bit dull. So as I'm watching the presidential debate, I took my time looking through the new items. And there it was. Loft's version of the Phillip Lim sweatshirt. Add to cart, add to cart, add to cart! I see so much potential with this sweatshirt. Leopard, pinstripes, patterns, etc. You name it, it will probably match. Can't wait to have fun with this one! Is it as nice and structured as Phillip Lim's. Well no. Cheaper fabric, looser cut, but also only $28 after the discount. And for now, that's what I can afford.
Loft short sleeve sweatshirt. Buy it here.
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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Talihina Sky

I'm so glad I kept this leather jacket from Banana Republic. I bought it in my 20s and remember paying around $200. At the time I was making less than $30K/year and was a new and eager tech writer/trainer. So $200 was a lot of money to spend on one item. But man has it been worth it.

Of course there was a period of four fat years when I couldn't wear it. But now that I'm a size 10-12 up top, it fits just fine. And even though it's still in the high 80s here, it's always Sunny in Philadelphia freezing in my office.

Another rarity is tucking my shirt into my pants and wearing a belt. I have a hard time wrapping most belts around my belly pooch. This one is pretty old and was custom fit for me in Italy at the leather market in Florence (a trip I took when I turned 30). I prefer to buy structured shirts that don't need to be tucked in. I think it's a big girl security blanket to cover up problem areas. At least it is for me.

And I know I just wore this camo tank from Zara but I love it. Thought it would look cool with the pinstripes on my pants. Get used to this tank, I'm gonna style it up a lot more times before I'm done with it.

How beautiful was the sky this morning? After taking pictures, I had on a steady rotation of Kings of Leon's Talihina Sky (acoustic version from the movie) on my iPhone at work today. I'm also digging Jack White's Love Interruption and These United States' West Won. A little deviation from my usual alternative style.

{Jacket: Banana Republic (very old) | Pants: Gap | Shirt: Zara. Buy it here. | Belt: Italy (old) | Shoes: Nine West Andriana | Lipstick: MAC Lipmix in Burgundy. Buy it here.}

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mint Collar

My sister thinks I have an obsession with decorative collars. That's probably true but you wouldn't know it by looking at my blog. I don't wear them as often as I would like. To me, they are like turtlenecks and I feel like a squatty turtle in them.

Take my Marni collar (does the shirt look familiar). I would love to wear it more often but just can't seem to find the right combos that don't make me feel like Barney Rubble. Some of them sit too high, some are too big, some too small, and some cut off my circulation (Zara!). So I have to be pretty picky with them. With the Marni collar, I didn't really have a choice as I never got the chance to see the collar in person before purchasing.

The one I have on today is from H&M and was stashed on the other side of a clothing display. I haven't seen it since in the mint color but have seen it in white recently. It's actually quite comfortable. Couldn't even tell I was wearing it today. Not once did I feel the little sequins rubbing on my neck. So kudos to H&M for making a comfortable collar. No kudos on the price. I think $25 is a bit high for an H&M brand collar, don't you?

Maybe it's because I'm a little money conscious right now. But being money conscious isn't so bad. It makes me really think about what I want to add to my wardrobe. Do I really need another pair of pink shoes when I already own three? Do I really want to spend $100 on one item when I'll still need to buy something else to add to it? Can the item I'm buying work with not one but several other items in my closet? Will it last through more than two washings? Is it comfortable? Dry clean, washer, hand wash, iron? So while we continue with double bills between FL and CT, I'll continue trying to come up with new combos of existing clothes, throwing in a new piece here and there.

{Shirt: Zara | Collar: H&M | Pants: NY&Co | Shoes: J. Crew}

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Narciso Rodriguez for Kohl's

I was super excited to read that Narciso Rodriquez is designing an affordable line for Kohl's. I've been a fan of his gorgeous clothes for many, many years and have never been able to afford anything from his line of clothing. His line for Kohl's will be available online and in stores in November.

I just hope his designs don't fall prey to shoddy craftsmanship like past designers for the sake of price. I am all for high-end couture designers making clothes for people like myself who cannot drop $600+ on one piece of clothing. And as I've stated before, Vera Wang had some interesting designs that I scooped up when she first started designing for Kohl's. But after a few years of being the main designer of women's clothing for Kohl's, her line is looking stagnant and tired. And I commented on how disappointed I was with Jennifer Lopez's sizing and sheer fabrics. The two tanks tops I bought for $8-10 from Rock & Republic left trails of sequins everywhere that my coworkers in Connecticut were still finding weeks after I wore the tanks (BTW - they are at Goodwill or in some other woman's closet now).

About the only line that has truly impressed me at Kohl's is Dana Buchman. And guess what? The prices on her pieces are higher. And I'm fine with that! I don't mind dropping $50 on a shirt that will last through several washings. And it looks like most of Narciso's line is priced at or about the $50 mark. His line includes peplums, color blocking, and prints in black, berry, and ivory colors. And it looks very promising.


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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Skulls and Swans

How cool is this dress? Got it about a month ago when Dorothy Perkins was having a sale. Wish it was a tad bit longer and it swims up top (my slip was showing). Oh, okay let me go off on a tangent here about slips. I just wanted a basic black slip. You know, old school kind before all the Spanx knockoffs came out. Just a silky dress slip to provide a little protection from my sheer dress.  I went to three or four places before I finally found separates at Walmart.  Even then the bottom slip would peek out of my dress when I would stand or sit certain ways. But it was better than nothing and a lot more comfortable than my shape wear.

So back to the dress. It's called the Swan dress but when I looked at it last night I was delighted to find the little devilish skulls intermingled. I've always wanted to add a skull tattoo to my collection. So anytime I get anything with skulls on it, I'm thrilled. It's like a little rebellion without being too obvious.

{Dress: Dorothy Perkins. Similar dress here. | Shoes: Lord & Taylor | Blazer: Zara}

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